Wroclaw is very near and dear to my heart. My parents are both from the city, we visit my grandparents who still live there as frequently as we can, and it was the first city I was given a little bit of a looser reign in, to go out and explore on my own. So when I was finally able to show Michael around, I was so excited. A lot of the places are super nostalgic to me, as I’ve been coming to this city since I was about 3 years old, and I have loads of memories going around the town with my parents and grandparents and seeing it all with him again after so long was really sweet.
We spent the most time in Wroclaw, because we wanted a lot of time to visit with my mom’s parents, but also because we had free accommodations, so it was super budget friendly for us. I tried to show Michael all of my favorite parts of Wroclaw and show him some of the old charm of the city. Here’s what we got up to.
Rynek + Ratusz
My favorite part of the city is the town square, the building facades are all so colorful and bright and the Ratusz, or city hall, stands beautifully in the center. I have always enjoyed walking around the city square, which is completely pedestrianized, and looking at all the buildings and stores and the inviting restaurants. It has become a little more Americanized in the more recent years, and I still begrudge the Cinnabon that is smack in the middle of town, but alas what can you do. If you do end up in Rynek, I like to go to the cafe/ice cream shop Vitaminka, and sit on the outside and people watch.
Dwarves + Wandering
While you’re in the town center, you may notice little groups of people taking pictures of small indiscernible objects. They are dwarves, hidden in plain sight, often portrayed doing funny things, or something relevant to the area they are in. My favorite dwarf is on Więzienna street, that street is named so because of the old jail that used to be there, and this particular dwarf has a little tiny jail cell built into the side of the building where he sits shackled up. There is a map online of all the dwarves in the city, and if you follow it as sort of a scavenger hunt you can come across a lot of cute alleys in the city you wouldn’t normally have ventured to. Some of my favorite little places I’ve come across while looking for dwarves include the University of Wroclaw, Barokowy ogród Ossolineum (Ossolineum Baroque Garden), and this little alleyway or street called Jatki, which I believe used to be a butcher and has a little statue of farm animals and independent shops.
Japanese Garden + bonus fountain show @ night
The Japanese garden used to be my favorite place to go when I was younger. I remember whenever I would go to visit my grandma in spring and summer I would beg her to take me to the garden. I loved walking around around, looking at all the koi fish, enjoying the flowers and mini zen gardens the park has to offer. Also, a huge perk is that it costs about $1 to get in. Michael and I went on a warm summer afternoon, and it brought back so many memories that I had as a kid. I remember specifically splashing around in a shallow fountain, and chasing tadpoles around with my uncle. They actually recently renovated the fountain and it now has shows in the evening with lights and music which is pretty cool.
The Zoo in Wroclaw is the oldest and largest in the country. Similarly to the Japanese garden, i have been begging my parents and grandparents to go every time I visit Poland since I was 4 years old. It houses 10,500 animals (crazy!) and 1,132 species. It has been recently renovated to include larger enclosures for the animals which has been really nice to see.
Ostrów Tumski (Cathedral Island)
Cathedral Island in Wroclaw is one of the most magical feeling places in the city. I love to go there during golden hour, when the lights bounce around the old buildings (the oldest in the city) and off the church facades. We went around that time during our visit in 2016 with my uncle and my mom, and there was so much going on. An impromptu wedding photo shoot, a local artist selling her drawings of the area, and an older man with his dog playing the flute and really setting the mood around the church. It’s such a peaceful place in the heart of the city, and well worth the trip in my opinion. Also, I’ve seen someone say that the lights on the island are all old gas lights, and there is a man who goes around to light them all. Not sure if this is true, because I have never seen it, but it makes the place even more life a story book.
Have you ever visited Wroclaw? If so what were some of your favorite sights?